I read this article by Laurie Sullivan and really was blown away that anyone in the Ad Industry or Retail for that mater would think we would go all E-Commerce. She blew her thesis up front by saying there will be warehouses to go see/feel product, which if that is true we would need them all over the place (ie stores) and if we already are there wouldn’t we want to buy what we like for immediate gratification? I am surely not going home then placing and order and paying for shipping.
But there are a few significant reasons why in person retail will trump online for the foreseeable future.
1] Many, many stores are small businesses and it would be impossible to replace these online.
2] We love exploring unique and interesting stores. And shopping is often enjoyable. And there is much less buyer’s remorse in person.
3] Online reduces impulse buys considerably. When you walk into say a Target think of how massive your view is. Imagine changing that view to a 15″ diagonal window. You will miss so many sale items and choices.
4] If something is close by and we can get it now we will. Especially if i is something we didn’t plan ahead for. Like oops ran out of milk.
5] I can view the whole Cracker/Cookie aisle in 3 minutes in a Supermarket. This would take about 15+ minutes on line. I don’t have time for that. And the actual physical packaging makes or breaks a sale. To get the same visual online I have to click on each item to blow it up.
One day it is possible that we might buy commodities or things we don’t need to shop in person for online as routine. But until we can shop via hologram or HD-3D with the exact same visuals from our home, E-Commerce will accent not replace our shopping experience. While a store might make more margin on an item I buy directly from a website like my favorite shampoo I always buy, they would lose the volume of impulse buying that is proven from a 100 years of retail and marketing research and studies.
For items like clothes which we are getting used to buying online more and more, it really sucks when something doesn’t fit and you have to wait to return it and get a replacement. And shopping for books is so much more pleasurable in a book store than online. You can browser titles and subjects so much faster. And it is very hard to replace that feeling of discovering something via the online experience. It is being worked on but nothing yet is close.